The magnificent Shevchenko Garden, spread out near Kharkiv main landmark, the Svobody Square, is the oldest and the most beautiful park complex in the city. Convenient location, beautified green areas, and great number of original objects make it a popular recreation and entertainment place for Kharkiv locals and guests.
The garden was laid out on the initiative of Kharkiv University’s founder in the early 19th century and occupied the territory of the natural oak-grove, located in city outskirts. It consisted of two parts: the botanic gardens, adapted to university’s scientific needs, were laid out on the lower terrace, and the landscape English garden, open for everyone, was situated on the upper one. Neat lanes were created and hundreds of trees’ and bushes’ species were planted. Some of them were exotic, brought to Kharkiv from different countries and acclimatized. Local old-timers – the huge 200-year-old oaks – are particularly valuable. The garden was called the University Garden and, since its foundation, became a favorite strolling place for students and other city residents alike.
In the following years, park’s territory was repeatedly broadened and beautified; new and new objects were added to it. Thus, in the first half of the 20th century, in course of a large-scale reconstruction, the garden acquired new lanes and a fountain, which has recently become a music one. At the same time, an impressively high monument to Taras Shevchenko was opened not far from the central lane. It harmonically fits into park’s landscape and is its key attraction. The monument, together with pedestal, is more than 16-meter-high and is recognized as one of the biggest and the most beautiful monuments to the well-known Ukrainian in the world. With its installation, the garden was renamed as Shevchenko Garden. A cozy chestnut lane, which is garden’s true adornment, runs from the monument to the university building.
An original fountain that cascades along garden’s steep slope appeared there on Kharkiv’s 300th anniversary, and an observation area, featuring marvelous views of the Lopan River’s valley, was equipped on its top. Somewhat later, the garden was adorned with an interesting building of the Concert Hall Ukraine, placed near the Kharkiv Zoo, which was opened in the late 19th century and is considered to be the oldest one in Ukraine. About 400 species of animals from different continents and 80 species of exotic fish live there. In addition, the park houses the largest dolphinarium in the country and an observatory, built in 1808.
The Shevchenko Garden is also notable for a large number of monuments. The most well-known ones are the monument to Archangel Michael, presented to Kharkiv on its 350th anniversary by Ukraine’s capital, and the bronze monument, shaped as a football. The football, having a 1,5-meter diameter and weighing more than two tons, is installed on the pedestal of black granite. It is situated on the token place, where 50 years ago local football fans used to come together in order to discuss current news.
In addition, park amusements, numerous cafés and children’s playgrounds work in the garden. Every summer, an exhibition of natural flowers is organized there.